Musings from Brian J. Noggle
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Caution: Do Not Eat In Dark
Watch for that warning label, coming soon thanks to this lawsuit:
    A Morgantown man, his mother and his friend are suing McDonald's for $10 million.

    The man says he bit into a hamburger and had a severe allergic reaction to the cheese melted on it.
As a severely allergic man, he took every reasonable precaution to ensure his own safety:
    Jeromy did his part to make it known he didn't want cheese on the hamburgers because he is allergic, Houston said.

    He told a worker through the ordering speaker and then two workers face-to-face at the pay and pick-up windows that he couldn't eat cheese, Houston said.

    "By my count, he took at least five independent steps to make sure that thing had no cheese on it," Houston said. "And it did and almost cost him his life."

    After getting the food, the three drove to Clarksburg and started to eat the food in a darkened room where they were going to watch a movie, Houston said.

    Jeromy took one bite and started having the reaction, Houston said. One of the three immediately called the McDonald's to let restaurant employees know they had messed up the order, but had to cut the call short when Jeromy started having a bad reaction, Houston said.
That's right, he told people he was allergic but didn't take the precaution of actually checking his food. Afterwards, while he's reacting, his friends call the McDonalds.

Sounds like someone is digging for some free money here.

On the other hand, here's an encouraging sign from our health industry:
    The lawsuit alleges Jeromy "was only moments from death" or serious injury by the time he reached the hospital.

    . . . .
    McDonald's representatives offered to pay half of Jeromy's medical bills -- which totaled about $700. When Houston became involved, he said the company offered to pay all the medical costs.
The cost of saving someone only moments from death: $1400.

Good work, health care industry!

Weird: Supply and Demand's Limited Impact
Prices are going up for some commodities when the supply goes down and demand remains the same or goes up:
    The wholesale price of cocaine has surged since December because of a shortage of the drug in 37 U.S. cities, including Milwaukee, according to a recent announcement by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Isn't it stunning that this happens to drugs but not to petroleum, where price increases are always the result of mere greed on the part of the oil companies?

Scientists Prove Rest of World Is Parallel Universe to United States
With the recent discovery by American scientists that, in the rest of the world, Roxette continued to exist after 1991.

Friday, August 10, 2007
Taking The Draft Off The Table
In between the bomp-bomp-bomp-bomps of the NPR All Things Considered intro music today, they teased me that one of their upcoming stories was about the possibility of reinstituting the draft.

Oh, for Pete's sake, I have been hearing that for the last five years. In 2003, my own grandmother expressed fear of it, sure that Bush was going to impress my younger cousins and send them to Iraq.

To heck with it; I am on the bandwagon. Let's restore the damn thing so that I don't have to hear horror stories about that particular monster in the closet, children voters, a whole decade.

UPDATE: Here's the story.

And I've reconsidered; if we reinstitute the draft, the same people worried about it coming back would take to the streets to demand its end, again. So we might as well not if they say we're going to.

UPDATE II: James Joyner weighs in, sort of.

Preparing My Plan for $100 Million Cricket Stadium, $100 Million Roller Derby Arena, $100 Million Pokemon Dome
Stadium of dreams:
    Efforts to bring professional outdoor soccer back to St. Louis will enter a decisive phase on Monday when a prominent Metro East lawyer will propose a $100 million stadium complex in Collinsville that he intends to be home to a Major League Soccer franchise.
A $100 million dollar complex that's funded as a public/private partnership wherein the city takes the fiscal risk and the private guy reaps any rewards that accidentally occur in spite of this being a Major League Soccer stadium being built in the middle of nowhere.

Public/private partnerships: is there anything they won't try?

Thursday, August 09, 2007
Book Report: He Was A Midwestern Boy On His Own by Bob Greene (1991)
As you know, gentle reader, I like Bob Greene's books well enough to spell his name correctly most of the time. This is the first I've read in two plus years (since Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War in March 2005 and Bob Greene's America in May 2004).

It collects a number of his columns from Esquire and the Chicago Tribune again, so he's back in his sweet spot of short narrative nonfiction with the occasional forays into "People and Things That Happened Because I Am A Columnist" or "Things I Made Happen Because I Know Michael Jordan" filler material. Of course, we cringe when he talks about calling a seventeen year old girl in 1988 and talking to her about her sexual arousal watching Dennis Quaid in The Big Easy and wonder is that the one?

Greene trends more mawkish than Andy Rooney, so he falls beneath the old curmudgeon in my estimation, but he did make a career at it whereas I'm only making a blog of writing my insights. So I respect the man and enjoy his work enough to pick up a collection of columns from time to time, but I'm not exactly plunging into the first edition copy of All Summer Long, one of two first edition copies that have passed through my hands and have remained on my to-read shelf.

Books mentioned in this review:


The Coming Russo-Canadian War
Canada joins rush to claim the Arctic:
    “Our government has an aggressive Arctic agenda,” Dimitri Soudas, Mr Harper’s spokesman, said on Wednesday.

    “The Russians sent a submarine to drop a small flag at the bottom of the ocean. We’re sending our prime minister to reassert Canadian sovereignty,” said a senior government official, according to Canadian press.

    Since the Russian expedition was discovered last month, Mr Harper has faced increasing pressure to fight back.
The twenty-first century promises to be as odd as all the others that preceded it. I mean, it almost takes a suspension of disbelief to believe that the French once dominated Continental Europe with its army or that the Belgians had colonies. Looking forward to the 21st century, how many other almost inconceivable things remain to come.

What a Difference a Good Title Makes
On a book, perhaps, but certainly on a law:
    A Cole County judge on Wednesday struck down a new law that would have allowed more midwives to help deliver babies in Missouri.

    Circuit Judge Patricia Joyce declared the law unconstitutional. The law was attached to a health insurance bill, and Joyce said the title of that bill was too narrow to encompass midwifery.
Good to see that the Post-Dispatch is impartial on the matter. On one hand, we have:
    While a doctors' association praised the ruling, home-birth advocates promised to appeal it. Mary Ueland, who lobbies for midwives' interests, said she was confident the Missouri Supreme Court would uphold the law.
A dreaded lobbiest, a paid spokesperson for a vile interest group. And on the other side:
    The state's largest physicians' association, the Missouri State Medical Association, has fought the changes. Jeff Howell, the association's director of legislative affairs, said Wednesday that the new law would have "significantly lowered the standard of care for childbirth services, and we just don't think that's acceptable."
An association of physicians and its director of legislative affairs. In other words, a someone who lobbies for physicians' interests.

Perhaps the Post-Dispatch doesn't think its readers know any other words or thoughts aside from those it presents to them. Perhaps it's right.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007
A Morbid Hobby, I Know
So I've taken to watching music videos from the 1980s and, while watching the comely young ladies in big hair and short skirts shaking their body parts amid the smoke machines for the cameras, started trying to guess: grandmother or dead some 20 years by now from a speedball.

Everybody play!

In Case Of Catastrophic Failure, An Alarm Will Sound
Wisconsin to install monitors on 15 bridges:
    The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will install devices on 15 bridges to monitor unusual movements, officials announced Tuesday, six days after the fatal I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis.

    The devices, called accelerometers, will be placed on the 15 bridges in Wisconsin that have support structures similar to the Minneapolis bridge.

    Accelerometers work much like seismometers, which measure movements of the Earth, and will gauge horizontal and vertical movements in the bridge supports.
Kudos to the state government of Wisconsin for spending tax dollars making a public gesture that won't actually fix anything.

Perhaps if they installed cameras, too, so they could have pictures of the actual collapse as well, kinda like security cameras favored by police departments don't prevent but allow government officials to watch governmental failures in progress from the safety of their offices.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007
People Cannot Self-Regulate; Please, Government, Regulate Me
I guess that's the message from this poll:
    Ninety-one percent of Americans believe sending text messages while driving is as dangerous as driving after having a couple of drinks, but 57 percent admit to doing it, a poll released on Tuesday said.

    The Harris Interactive survey commissioned by mobile messaging service Pinger found 89 percent of respondents believe texting while driving is dangerous and should be outlawed.

    Even so, 66 percent of the adults surveyed who drive and use text messaging told pollsters they had read text messages or e-mails while driving. Fifty-seven percent admitted to sending them.
Please, mama government, save me from myself!

A good follow-up question would have been to ask how many obeyed the speed limits, existing laws designed to regulate behavior while driving, to determine how many of those people we could expect to heed new laws about texting while driving.

Oh, never mind.

Monday, August 06, 2007
Ailing Retail Development Holds No Lessons
In St. Ann, a municipality in northwest St. Louis County, its sales tax mainstay is not providing the tax revenue it used to:
    When Northwest Plaza gets a cold, St. Ann sneezes.

    Northwest Plaza is ailing right now, and St. Ann's finances are following suit.

    The city depends on sales taxes from the shopping mall for a big chunk of its revenue, and sales at the mall have been on a steady decline since 2000.

    "We are extremely sales tax driven," said Mayor Tim James. "When that money goes on hiatus, which is what we are hoping, and not gone for good, it really shakes things up."

    Since 2000, the city has reduced its work force to 92 from 112 and has begun charging residents for garbage pickup that used to be free. But so far, the city has kept up appearances. Potholes are being fixed, and the streets are being patrolled.
Ah, yes, the facade of providing core government services instead of blowing scads of cash on a water park that won't break even on an annual basis (like so many of your neighbor municipalities are).

So what is the lesson about this that municipal leaders can learn? Partnering with land developers in crony capitalist schemes to increase your sales tax revenue and then spending that sales tax revenue as though it will continue to grow infinitely might put you into trouble when those sales taxes decline?

Nah; the lesson is thank goodness you're not fools like those people in St. Ann!

That's a Dig, Right?
Deep within this New York Times article lamenting that having only a couple of million dollars doesn't make you nutso rich (a point of view with which I agree, actually), we get this bit of commentary with which I don't:
    David Koblas, a computer programmer with a net worth of $5 million to $10 million, imagines what his life would be like if he left Silicon Valley. He could move to a small town like Elko, Nev., he says, and be a ski bum. Or he could move his family to the middle of the country and live like a prince in a spacious McMansion in the nicest neighborhood in town.

    But Mr. Koblas, 39, lives with his wife, Michelle, and their two children in Los Altos, south of Palo Alto, where the schools are highly regarded and the housing prices are inflated accordingly. So instead of a luxury home, the family lives in a relatively modest 2,000-square-foot house — not much bigger than the average American home — and he puts in long hours at Wink, a search engine start-up founded in 2005.

    "I'd be rich in Kansas City," he said. "People would seek me out for boards. But here I'm a dime a dozen."
Speaking on behalf of those of us in the middle of the country, please stay on a coast.

I don't know who's more of a self-important twit; the journalist writing the story, or the mcmillionaire.

Sunday, August 05, 2007
Anger Is Not Zero Sum
Workplace anger -- who wins?

Anger is not zero sum; that is, if everyone is angry, it doesn't mean that one person is winning and another person is losing. An angry tide raises all boats, and it makes them run in ship-shape fashion.

To say Noggle, one first must be able to say the "Nah."